Highway spending bill easily approved in House, heads to Senate

Members of both parties said they would prefer a full reauthorization of transportation spending, but also said yet another extension is needed to ensure transportation construction can go forward over the summer. 

Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.), who led the debate for Democrats, said he supports the bill, and that he wants to work with the Obama administration and House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica (R-Fla.) on a full authorization bill.

"This is a job-saving piece of legislation," Rahall said.

Mica pledged to work for a full reauthorization, and agreed that the bill would ensure construction jobs are saved. "What will happen Friday if we don't act accordingly today and don't pass H.R. 662 is literally a disaster, because we will shut down all the transpiration projects across the land, any of them than have any connection to the federal government," Mica said.

Before final approval, the House accepted an amendment in the nature of a substitute from Mica that made minor technical corrections to the bill. While Democrats had complained that they were not allowed to offer an amendment, Mica's technical fixes were accepted in a unanimous 422-0 vote.

The spending bill survived a Democratic motion to recommit the bill, which would have stripped out language that Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) said would allow $180 million to be spent on two "bridges to nowhere" in Alaska. Polis said this is an "insidious example of pork," but all Republicans and a handful of Democrats rejected the motion.